Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Colossians 3:11
I’ve previously discussed my evolving relationship with the Muslim population in our community, but I’ll outline it again for today’s blog. Briefly, we moved to West-central Minnesota in 2002, less than a year after 9/11, which produced in me much suspicion and distrust towards Muslims. At about the same time, there was a large immigration of Somalis into our community. I met them through medicine, and I provided the same care I would for anyone, but if I’m honest, I didn’t enjoy doing so. I wouldn’t have acknowledged it as racism, but I’m not sure what else you’d call it. I was xenophobic, and I just didn’t think it was wise to allow them to settle here.
Sadly, I used my faith as justification for my feelings. They don’t believe in the same God or in our world view. Why would we allow them to come here? I don’t think I was alone. A lot of Christians felt the same way I did. Over the years though, getting to know them though has radically changed my thoughts and feelings. It’s hard to get to know a people and remain xenophobic towards them. Now, as I’ve been working in addiction medicine, I’ve realized that many of them have had the same struggles I’ve had in life. Suddenly, I can see all the ways in which we are similar. Where I one portrayed suspicion and dislike, I now desire to show Christ’s love and grace.
In today’s passage, Paul captured this thought, which should put an end to all our prejudices. In it, he told us to put off the old life, exchanging it for the new one, given by our creator. In our new life, which is in Christ, we must see that there is no distinction between races. God made us all. We’ve all followed our own will, turning away from God. Jesus died for the forgiveness of everyone’s sins, and we all need a savior. We’re all in this together and none of us is better than anyone else.
When I can step back and look at the world from this perspective, all my prejudices seem absurd. As a Christian, I should be the most loving person that those in my community know. I should never use my faith as an excuse to hate. Rather, my faith should inspire me to love everyone, particularly those who don’t yet know Christ. If someone rejects my faith, that’s not my responsibility. My job is to be obedient to my creator, sharing with my neighbors the love that he has shown me.